Louisiana state colleges debate the minimum wage

“More than 300 people in Louisiana will see an immediate bump in their wages because a Centenary College administrator says he was moved by President Barack Obama’s words earlier this week.

“Centenary President David Rowe said he reached a tipping point while watching the State of the Union address on Tuesday, particularly the part when Obama said Congress could do more to ensure the economic security of the middle class by raising the federal minimum wage.

“Rowe said he was able to convince two of Centenary’s biggest vendors to follow his lead. National Resource Management provides maintenance and custodial work at the school. Sodexo is Centenary’s food service provider.”

Read the full article on the Advocate here.

Minimum Wage Hike Would be Big Step in Louisiana

Erika Zucker, policy advocate at the Workplace Justice Project, Loyola University Law School, said a higher minimum wage would have a bigger impact on Louisiana than in more well-to-do states.

“What a wage increase, particularly to the lowest-paid workers, does is it has an almost exponential effect on their standard of living,” she said.

Many minimum-wage workers have to hold down more than one job just to pay for their rent, bills, transportation and child care, Zucker said. A raise could allow those workers to spend more time with their families, and it would increase the amount of money spent in the community.

“If you give people at the bottom a little more disposable income, they’re going to be able to go out and spend it on things they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford,” Zucker said.

Not just for food and shelter, but going to movies, buying a pair of shoes. A raise of $2 or $3 an hour might not make that big a difference to most people, but it’s substantial for those living at or near poverty level.

Increasing the minimum wage has met so much resistance because it requires businesses, many of them very large, to give workers a raise, she said. It does cost businesses money.

“But we’re talking in many cases about some of the most profitable companies in this state,” she said, pointing to giant retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target.

Read the full article on the Advocate here.